Smith hopes Pakistan batsmen will be tentative

South Africa bowled out Pakistan for 49 in the first innings of the first Test at Johannesburg © Getty Images

Cape Town: Feb 13, 2013

South African captain Graeme Smith said he hoped Pakistan‘s batsmen would be tentative when they face South Africa‘s fast bowlers in the second Test starting at Newlands on Thursday.

Fifteen of the 20 Pakistan wickets that fell in the first Test in Johannesburg were to catches behind the wicket or in the slips. South Africa won by 211 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“I’d like to put it down to our guys creating good angles, getting good swing,” said Smith.

“For them, the bounce and the shape [means] there is a very different style of batting needed in those conditions. Any time you have that many caught-behinds, you need to have a look at how you leave the ball.”

Smith said he hoped the Pakistanis, who were bowled out for a record low 49 in the first innings at the Wanderers, would come into the second match with a tentative mindset.

“They allowed us to bowl at them. We managed to control the run rate for a large part of the game. That allowed us to attack them more. If they come into this match with a mindset to leave, they are going to be tentative. That will allow us to create pressure on them and will play into our favour.”

Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore said shot selection was the key for his team’s batsmen.

“You can’t win a Test in a session, but you can go a long way towards losing one and that’s what happened in Johannesburg,” he said.

Whatmore said the Pakistanis had been working hard to counter South Africa’s fast bowlers.

“Shot selection is the main thing for any batsman, being able to assess length and direction and make a decision. We’ve tried to practise the things we need to do in competition.”

Smith said he regarded Pakistan as dangerous opponents despite the big first Test win.

“We can’t underestimate the talent they have. If there is one team that can bounce back from a performance like that it is Pakistan.”

Although he was feted for achieving 100 Test captaincies in Johannesburg, Smith said the Newlands Test meant even more to him because he will be leading South Africa for the 100th time, with one of his captaincies having been when he led a World XI against Australia in 2005/06.

“Representing South Africa as captain 100 times is the mark that means the most to me,” he said.

“Newlands is our marquee Test ground and we’ve played well here. To achieve a milestone at this ground is something I am looking forward to.”

Smith has led South Africa to eight wins, four draws and one defeat in 13 captaincies at Newlands.

He said South Africa, ranked number one in Test cricket, had the challenge of maintaining the standard of their performances and meeting the expectations of their supporters.

But he believed the current team was equipped to deal with most situations, with an experienced batting line-up complementing the side’s fast bowlers.

“The side has got good at recognising moments in games and making big impacts, like day two at the Wanderers,” he said. “When the game needs to be stepped up, we find that extra bit.

“There is a lot of experience in our top four, an understanding of how to handle conditions, what is the right play at the right time. The guys are prepared to do the hard work.”

Smith said he was looking forward to facing 2.1-metre Mohammad Irfan, reputed to be the tallest man to play international cricket, who is expected to make his Test debut following a good performance in a two-day practice match.

“It’s going to be a unique experience,” he said. “Out in the middle we will have to face that challenge.”